Friday, 22 February 2008

'A Question of Social Justice'

A report from the Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Conference by Joe Redmond, Adamsdown RESPECT candidate and workplace environmental union representative. His report of the Heathrow climate camp can be read here

Saturday 9th February 2008 saw the UK’s first national Trade Union conference on climate change, convened by the Campaign against Climate Change and believed also to be the first of its kind in the world. Hundreds of activists and trade unionists packed the main hall of University College London Union to discuss the role of unions in developing just and equitable solutions to the potential threat of climate change, an ecological catastrophe that threatens billions of people especially the poorest and most vulnerable - who will inevitably be its victims. RESPECT Environment spokesperson Elaine Graham Leigh called it ‘a question of social justice’ and was one of many speakers to cite the £50billion investment in Northern Rock and several billions more into the so-called ‘War on Terror’ as draining taxpayers money from investment in alternative energy sources that would break our dependence on fossil fuels.

While capitalism and its roots in the industrial revolution are undeniably the causes of the problem, governments and the international business community rely on the free market to provide the solution through carbon exchange schemes and development of new technologies. This is clearly double speak from the ruling classes who are more than aware that unqualified freedom creates exactly the opposite – with restraints to trade removed there is nothing to stop the strongest from oppressing the weak (as successive announcements of record profits for oil and gas companies demonstrate). Author and socialist Jonathan Neale reminded activists at the conference that the whole world economy was re-drawn for the Second World War – and a similar seismic shift is needed to tackle climate change.

With industry the main contributor to CO2 emissions, and government nowhere near to applying meaningful regulation, workers must pressure their employers to make change. Chris Bough from the PCS union said that environmental impact is a logical extension of health and safety and echoed the belief of many delegates that green reps should be given legal status. He added that unions should promote learning peers to educate management and co-workers.

The role of trade unionists

For many trade unions and their leadership the environment has historically been a divisive issue – workers are generally told their jobs are under threat - however, a transition to ‘green collar’ jobs would see workers trained towards a future in a low carbon economy. This was envisioned by Lucas Aerospace workers in the 1970’s, who attempted to defend their jobs by calling for an end to the production of military goods and a switch to high technology equipment like kidney dialysis machines. (Lucas workers also argued that the radar systems used in fighter planes could be used for sight aid for blind people).

The workforce would be much happier with this from the point of view of jobs and the quality of work.

Under capitalism the world's resources and wealth are owned and used to make profit for the wealthy. Money is invested where profit is highest and the fulfilment of human needs is always a secondary priority. The Lucas Plan challenged many of the basic assumptions of capitalism: why should profits come before people? What value have weapons in a world with so many other pressing needs?

Affordable jobs and homes

Providing good jobs locally would help minimalise day to day travel (particularly by single car users) and reduce the stress of commuting. Investment rather than privatisation in public transport would decrease pollution and begin to tackle the health problems caused by the amount of traffic in cities. Spiralling fuel and food costs only further diminish the quality of life for workers, especially in an era of public sector pay freezes (which are locked below the level of inflation – effective pay cuts in the real world).

A strong presence of teachers at the conference was reflected in the reception granted to Christine Burr (NUT) who said that 14% of pupils are delivered by parents in private transport. A lack of school buses coupled with closures, particularly in rural areas, has only exacerbated this problem. She added that schools are forced to tarmac important recreational spaces to accommodate temporary classrooms and parking spaces for teachers.

RESPECT believes that people should be able to live near to where they work or study and should be able to do so in decent quality council housing without having to pay extortionate rents dictated by the property market, driven by New Labour’s love of buy-to-let mortgages – which place no responsibility on landlords while offering tenants no security. Developers in major cities continue to build high price luxury flats which stand empty while working families endure endless council and housing association waiting lists.


Matt Wrack (FBU) highlighted the problems faced by Fire & Rescue Services in responding to emergencies like last year’s nationwide floods. Insurers have only this week said they will not pay out in such cases in future and that developers should think twice about building on flood plains – offering small consolation to people who cannot afford to buy a home elsewhere! Fire & Rescue are not tasked with responding but have to since no-one else can. FBU members believe the Fire Service Act should be changed to recognise this and include training and money to deal with these increasingly regular incidents. Perhaps in older days the army would have rolled out the Green Goddesses (as during the fire workers’ strike a couple of years ago) however they are too busy overseas looking after our ‘energy security’.

It’s the individual, stupid!

Instead of addressing these many problems, we are told we are failing in our individual responsibility to the planet. We are told to switch off our televisions and buy energy saving light bulbs, we are told to recycle, as if our habits of consumption are solely to blame rather than the society that created and depends on them.

By doing this the government gets away with doing nothing and creates among individuals the familiar state of denial that Mark Lynas describes in his book ‘Six Degrees’: “There is the metaphor of displaced commitment… denial of responsibility ("I am not the main cause of this problem"); condemnation of the accuser ("You have no right to challenge me"); rejection of blame ("I've done nothing wrong"); ignorance ("I don’t know the consequences of my actions"); powerlessness ("Nothing I do makes much difference"); comfort ("It is too difficult for me to change my behaviour"); and "fabricated constraints" ("There are too many impediments").

Direct Action

John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, bemoaned his own party’s record. He called for re-nationalisation of railways and energy companies and invited anyone and everyone to come to the next climate camp at Heathrow Airport – to protest and take direct action against the planned third runway which would see air traffic double and several hundred of his constituents forced from their homes.

Since 2005 Campaign against Climate Change has organised annual Global Days of Protest, and 65 countries were involved last year. In London, tens of thousands took part and will do so again at the next national demonstration on December 6th. If politicians are not prepared to act then we must go onto the streets and demand that they do!

RESPECT’s Nine Point Plan to Save the Planet

* Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by at least 90% by 2050 and massively increased investment in renewables

* No nuclear power

* Cheap, integrated, publicly-owned public transport system, run for need not profit

* A new binding international treaty to ensure real cuts in greenhouse gas emissions

* Halt airport expansion and end the £9 billion tax-break to the airlines

* Increase public investment to make all homes energy efficient, and all new homes sustainably designed

* Localise food production, packaging and distribution where possible, to cut food miles

* High-quality facilities to maximise recycling and no incinerators

* No biofuel production, which takes land needed for food crops and drives up food prices

Thursday, 21 February 2008

''Dim ysgol, dim cymuned'' – No School, No Community

When Rodney Berman, Leader of Cardiff Council brazenly announced the closure of 22 schools he could never have imagined that within the year popular protest from school students, teachers and parents would sink the LibDems flagship school “reorganisation” programme. The streets of Cardiff were filled with the biggest marches seen since the protests against the invasion of Iraq. The people won that battle but the war goes on with new attempts to close Cardiff schools.

But it is not only in Cardiff that schools are threatened with closure, North Wales has seen huge protests. The argument for school closures is phrased differently, but the closures are even more sinister, threatening to rip out the heart of rural communities. In Gwynedd, Plaid are attempting the biggest school closure programme in Wales. Some have tried to create spin from the fact that one or two of the schools have less than ten pupils, but this by no means typical of the schools being shut.

Bethan Wyn Evans is a teacher at Ysgol Bronyfooel, Y Fron, an old slate quarry community on the hills overlooking Caernarfon. She describes herself as “as not a very political person” but nevertheless was impelled by outrage at the effect school closures would have on rural communities to take a stand. Speaking to Adam Johannes from RESPECT, she eloquently demolished the arguments that small schools are a bad thing,

'Some schools in Gwynedd do have very small numbers of pupils' which she blames on rumours of closures, 'I assume that this pleases the council as they won't be blamed for the closure! - Our school has just short of 50 pupils. I teach 7-12 year old, there are 22 pupiles in my class. There is a high ratio of special ed needs, I feel stongly that they benefit from being with me for 4 years because I know their needs very well from year to year. These children would struggle in large schools and would fall behind and be 'ignored' within a big class situation. We have a special needs unit in the school - included in the 50 children'.

With many city schools failing our special needs children it is heartening to hear a village school is setting such a shining example, shamefully Welsh politicians are threatening this school with closure. But Bethan also believes that a fog has been created by the local council over figures and spending in order to push through their agenda, 'The figures and percentages of spending per head have been portrayed in a very unclear way. Our school seems to have a high amount of spending per head, when, in fact, part of the special needs teacher's wage comes into the total.' She notes children from the whole catchement area come to the special needs unit in the school, and suggests therefore that figures that include this in their spending are very misleading.

Extraordinarily the work of the special needs unit at the school has not been highlighted in any of the official papers or consultation around the closure, despite along waiting list of pupils to join it, this has led members of the Bronyfoel Action Group to accuse the Assembly and Council of discrimination against special needs children by preventing them from reaching their full potential. In selling the closures the council claimed that it would ‘reduce inequalities and promote equal opportunities for children’, but nowhere did they even consider how the proposals would effect children with special needs and disabilities.

Bethan also strongly defends the concept of small schools, 'As for education being better in bigger schools, I take this as a personal insult! Last month we had an OFSTED inspection, even though our school is under threat! We had an excellent inspection. We run a fruit shop, school council, our composting business, Urdd club, breakafst club......our children have all the experiences a child in a large school could have!'

But she also worries about the impact on the whole community if they lose the fight. Y Fron is like many old industrial areas,'rundown - empty and derelict houses, no shop, no pub, demolished Chapel, no village hall.' and identifies the school as 'the only lifeline in the village -The only place for a chat is outside the school, the only social activites, concerts, bingo, carboot... are held in the school. English speaking parents have learnt Welsh because of their children - why would they otherwise? Old people do not come to the Fron to live as it isn't very accessible to public ameneties. Young people come here as there is currently a shop here.'

Understandably she feels betrayed by politicians and worried for the future, 'What does the future hold? Alun Ffred AM said that ''Dim ysgol, dim cymuned'' (no school, no community) was only a slogan! He should take 5 minutes to come up to the Fron and see how fragile some poorer rural communities really are!'

The effects of Plaid's school closure programme are creating local and national ripples with big guns like Daffyd Iwan, the President of the party and Lord Daffyd Ellis Thomas berating those who oppose the closure as pie-in-the-sky middle class liberals with ‘no idea of how to operate in the constraints of a budget’, but there has also been high profile resignations from the local party and the announcement of a new party to contest the local elections. With our children’s education and futures under attack by cuts pushed by all four major parties there is a need to link all the different school campaigns across Wales against the closures. Closures are being justified by falling school numbers in some schools which has led the mainstream politicians to talk of 'surplus places'. But falling school numbers could be seen as a golden opportunity to achieve smaller class sizes.

Last month, 600 people marched in Cardiff to keep open one local primary school that is threatened with closure. It was an angry march led by working class parents, teachers and school kids. A popular slogan of the movement has been - “There are NO surplus places only smaller class sizes” - because, of course, educationalists are united in arguing that smaller class sizes are better for our children, all “surplus places” means is that class sizes will be smaller! In reality the politicians and their accountants are attempting a con-trick, an attempt to use bogus arguments to carry through a neoliberal cut, but what our children need is no more cuts in education but more investment and an education driven not by the needs of big business but creating rounded, fully developed human beings.

Local councils in Wales and the Assembly do face genuine problems with funding from Central Government, the unjust Barnett Formula needs to be replaced with funding that recognises Wales unique poverty and social deprivation. Unfortunately none of the mainstream parties have the stomach to fight for more funds preferring attacks on the very parents and teachers who voted for them. This is to be expected, a real fight for our children’s futures and our communities would demand a very different kind of politics involving trade unions, public meetings, demonstrations and the kind of mass struggles not seen in Wales since the defeat of the great miners strike.

In Gwynedd, the battle against school closures is also a fight to save rural Wales. Rural communities are being destroyed by the closure of village shops, schools and post offices, the absence of public transport and key services. Low pay, under-employment and deprivation for working families is now widespread with huge problems of poverty for small farmers and their low paid workplace

But for the wealthy and Welsh millionaires, with their large houses, holiday homes, leisure pursuits and four-wheel drives, the countryside will remain a playground. The polarisation between rural rich and rural poor is widening with the privatisation of bus services and the collapse of much of the rural economy.

Against the panorama of global politics, local residents opposing the closure of a small village school might seem a small matter, but it is precisely these numerous small battles across Wales to defend communities and their public services that will determine the world our children and grandchildren inherit.

Another Wales is Possible!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Another School is Possible!

Cardiff has been rocked for the last year by protests against the attempts by the LibDem Council to close our schools, but we also need to protest and fight for a different kind of curriculum and different kind of school too. Teacher & NUT union rep Paul Vernell writes on the possibility of another kind of school.

An opportunity has opened up for teacher activists to liberate spaces in the curriculum: At Filton High School in South Gloucestershire an attempt has been made to begin to redesign the curriculum to make it more based on problem-solving and linked to changing the world. Staff from across the teaching and non-teaching unions set up the Alternative Futures Group at the end of 2006. This has met frequently after school over the last seven months. The group has worked on what staff feel should be the real purpose of education.

This culminated recently when 200 Year Nine students presented their solutions on solving climate change to an invited guest of local councillors and representatives. The ideas included solar panels and wind turbines they had designed, locally sourced food they had cooked and music they had written lyrics for. This celebration of students’ ingenuity took place after they had spent two weeks exploring the issue of climate change in all of their lessons.

Rachel Kendall, an English teacher at Filton High School and South Gloucestershire division NUT president, explained, “Workers at the school have a good record on fighting on pay and conditions. During the recent local elections, staff went out three nights running after school and leafleted against the fascist BNP who were standing in the area. So it is natural that we also should be extending our role and trying to shape the curriculum.”

During the first week students were given a choice of in-school events and trips to deepen their understanding of of climate change. On the Wednesday over 100 pupils went out to seven different locations.


Some visited the award- winning Bordeaux Quay restaurant where they used locally sourced ingredients to make meals from healthy ingredients. Lauren, a student, said, “It was interesting finding out about how the restaurant was reducing its carbon footprint. I really enjoyed making a couscous salad. We were allowed to eat it too. I’ve never had one before.”

A trip to a village saw students being taught how to measure a community’s carbon footprint.
In school there was a carousel of activities including one with local artist Ruth Ramsey who led workshops on fashion and rubbish, where students made fashion items out of used materials. A group organised a Question Time session. They invited an audience of around 100 people after school to question students in the roles of minister David Miliband, Rupert Murdoch and other well-known individuals. Students started breaking down the parcelling up of knowledge that is characteristic of most learning in school so that they can be tested more readily.


Teacher Laura Storey said, “It was incredible to see how much research the students had done. Their confidence grew throughout so that they could engage and argue back.” We also invited seven experts from organisations including The Soil Association and the Campaign against Climate Change. Groups of students came up to them with questions they had prepared in their English lessons. They took notes to use in the groups they were working in to produce leaflets and web pages.

Lessons looked different too. Instead of teaching in their usual spaces, staff experimented. We launched the event in the school hall and had all pupils working in groups on thinking skills activities to find out what they knew about the causes and effects of climate change.

French and German classes were grouped together and were taught by four teachers. Asked what he had enjoyed most, Liam stated, “It was great working collaboratively with our friends and that the lessons were all linked.”

In maths pupils were “unsetted” and designed a survey on public transport and recycling. They went on to the street to ask questions of the public. Chris Carter, the head of maths, said, “We want students to have an audience and purpose for their learning. Often you feel ground down by the targets and performance management stuff and let the tests shape what you do. “The next step is to get other schools to have a go. Perhaps next year we could get 50 or 100 schools to do the same thing at the same time and offer a real challenge to the current system.”

Jonathan Reddiford, the head of the sixth form at Nailsea School in North Somerset, agrees. He said, “In my school we have embarked on a similar project to the one at Filton. We chose the war on terror as our subject. “It would be a step forward if more schools could push for this type of approach and teachers’ unions threw their weight behind the idea of a national fortnight of ‘curriculum’ action.”

RESPECT calls for

*An education system that is not dependent on the ability to pay, that is comprehensive and gives an equal chance in life to every child, no matter how wealthy or poor their parents, from nursery to university. Scrap unnecessary tests.
* Education free at the point of use, from pre-school to FE, to university and adult learning.
* A radical reduction in class size.
* A qualified teacher for every class.
* Better pay for teachers and other education workers.
* An end to specialist school status, to Academies and to Trust schools.
* Restoration of local decision-making powers over admissions and new schools to elected local authorities, not government-appointed bureaucrats.
* Free after-school clubs and play centres for all that need them.
* Full and part-time nursery and day-care places as a right, for all who want them.
* An end to charitable status and tax breaks for private schools.
* Free education and a living grant for all further and higher education students. Abolish student fees and student loans!
* Free and life-long access for all to high quality vocational education and adult education

Friday, 8 February 2008

Greening our Community - Local Courses


SURE START FOR SEEDS will take you through: seed sowing techniques, seed sowing in containers, seed sowing in beds, looking after your seedlings & transplants, thinning, potting on and transplanting. This is a 100% practical, outdoor course with clear demonstrations and hands on activities. The course is suitable for beginners who want to learn how to grow vegetables and flowers from scratch.

This is a free course with a free lunch! (If there is such a thing!)

START DATE: 19th February
FINISH DATE: 15th April (Easter Tuesday missed)
TIME: 10 – 1 pm
START DATE: 19th February
FINISH DATE: 15th April (Easter Tuesday missed)
TIME: 10 – 1 pm
VENUE: RCMA COMMUNITY GARDEN, Pontcanna Permanent Allotments, Pontcanna Fields (opposite the stables, by Western Avenue)
TUTOR: Edible gardening teacher & designer - Michele Fitzsimmons -
CONTACT DETAILS: - for course outline & further info


This course will take you through low maintenance food growing and gardening techniques, unusual perennial food plants, managing your pests naturally, working with weeds, basic soil science, water management techniques and basic design skills. Hands on activities, lots of visual aids & class participation with visits to a garden included.

START DATE: 10th April
FINISH DATE: 19th June (half term missed)
TIME: 1 – 3 pm
VENUE: MAC – Michaelston Adult Centre, Michaelston Road, Ely, Cardiff, CF5 4SX
TUTOR: Edible gardening teacher & designer - Michele Fitzsimmons -
CONTACT DETAILS: - for course outline & further information
FEE: £57.00 (Reduced Fee £22.00)
For enrolment forms and general course enquiries contact Michaelston Adult Centre reception on:
Tel: 029 20671430
Fax: 029 20671430


This Permaculture Design Course will focus on permaculture ethics, principles and designing integrated systems. Topics covered will include permaculture gardening, creative thinking techniques, design strategies, localising the economy, bioregionalism, sustainable energy and green buildings. Lots of visual aids & class participation with field trips to working examples also included.

The course will be divided into 4 self contained modules each worth 10 credits at level 1. The modules can be taken in isolation. However, only a successful completion of all 4 modules will also result in a Permaculture Designer’s Certificate.

START DATE: Saturday 10th May
TIME: 9.30am – 4.15pm
VENUE: Cardiff University
TUTORS: Permaculture Gardening - Michele Fitzsimmons -
Other tutors tba
or Michele Fitzsimmons on
FEE: £65.00 (Reduced Fee £52.00) per module. £260 (Reduced Fee £208.00) for all 4 modules. You may be eligible for a free place – certain conditions would apply.
For enrolment forms and general course enquiries contact the Centre for Lifelong Learning reception on:
Tel: 0292087 0000
Fax: 0292066 8935


Adam Johannes, Roath/Plasnewydd RESPECT: "The last year has seen yet another Tesco's open in Roath within ten minutes walking distance of two similar stores. Other Supermarkets are planned in the area. While supermarkets offer workers convenience, the stranglehold of multinational corporations over the food we eat has had an incredibly negative impact on both the environment and public health. We also need to campaign for every school student to have access to one free and nutritious school meal a day - surely the health of our children is worth the cost?"


RESPECT is not opposed to those who shop in supermarkets, we are opposed to the supermarket monopoly. Their power limits choice and jeopardies diversity. There is mounting impact that the stranglehold of supermarkets over the food we eat has lowered public nutrition and the quality of food that we eat. As Tesco buys up convenience stores and sells ever more types of non-food produce from kettles to financial services, local food and the very character of Britain's high streets are under threat.


The use of additives, colouring a flavouring has enabled supermarkets to increase profits and lower the quality of food by increasing shelf life and enhancing its taste and appearance.


The way Tesco seeks maximum profit, as well as the 'just in time' distribution strategy, increases the transportation of products all over the globe as well as up and down the country.


The worlds poor are getting poorer. The multinational agro-industrial complex forces many farmers off land and into sweatshops or worse. Many farmers are forced into debt and suicide is far to common. Multinationals also divert vital water sources away from local people in order to maximize farming or food production.


The average Tesco employee earns £11,000 a year, the chief executive earns £4m. Tesco exploit vulnerable people - many part times, on a high turnover with little of few benifits and paid just above the minimum wage.


Supermarkets make enormous profits (Tescos up by £13bn last year) by pushing producers to cut corners, employ gang masters and create unacceptable working conditions.


Intensive farming of cash crops using fertilisers and without long them planning is having a huge impact on important ecosystems. Switching crops on global demand often leads to massive over production in one crop. In the case of Bio-fuels this has lead to staple food shortages in some countries.


The big supermarkets maintain and increase their monopoly through huge lobbying power and many have long histories of funding the three main parties. Tesco's fund the Lib Dem's and the Tory Party and Lord Sainsbury is in the New Labour Government.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

The Power of the Powerless

"Last night I received a text message from my dear friend Fida: "It's coming down -- it's coming down!" she declared ecstatically. "Laila! The Palestinians destroyed the Rafah wall, all of it. All of it not part of it! Your sister, Fida." More texts followed, as I received periodical updates on the situation in Rafah, where it was 3am. "Two hours ago people were praising God everywhere. The metal wall was cut and destroyed. So was the cement one. It is great, Laila, it is great," she declared."
Laila El-Haddad writing from the US on the Electronic Intifada website

Last week saw an extraordinary uprising against injustice from a stateless people. To recap on recent history: In the Gaza Ghetto, under siege, blockaded, electricity shut off, one and a half million people are forced to live like rats in a trap in the biggest open air prison on earth. This is one of the darkest chapters in the 60 years of dispossession that fate has visited on the people of Palestine.

With the siege becoming increasingly brutal and mediaeval a 'danse macabre' of famine, disease and disorder threatens. The Palestinian house is divided with US backed President Abbas acting like the Marshall Petain of the Middle East against democratically elected Hamas. Meanwhile the Israeli government (encouraged by the United States and the EU) reject every offer of a truce from the Palestinian resistance, preferring a scorched earth policy of trying to destabilise one of the few democratically elected administration's in the region.

Then militants blow holes in the prison walls that surround the people and, in biblical scenes, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children pour into Egypt pushing back the police and soldiers of the Mubarak regime to bring back desperately needed food and supplies. This is mass direct action straight out of the movie Gandhi. It's like the fall of the Berlin Wall, for a brief moment, Rafah is the Brandenburg gate. It is a moment of liberation - symbolic and real - that will resonate for a long time. The long freeze that has seen the Palestinian national movement at an impasse has been broken by a mass movement from below. Across the Arab world, the dying regime of Egyptian despot, Mubarak has also been exposed as his soldiers desperately tried to truncheon the prisoners back into their prison. Millions now know the bitter truth: The Arab regimes are not the allies of Palestinian liberation, they are the obstacles to liberation.

What will happen next nobody knows. Palestinians have made it clear that they will never submit to being herded into reservations like cattle, nor will they end their resistance, because for them resistance equals existence. The friends of Palestine are many and growing in numbers, but their enemies are immensely powerful. They form an axis of evil that runs from the White House to occupied Jerusalem, and this axis extends to the capitals and palaces of an Arab continent bound in chains by repressive regimes who do the dirty work of the West. One thing is certain, we in Cardiff RESPECT will do our utmost to build solidarity for all people struggling for justice and peace in the Middle East. A fuse has been lit by this anti-colonial struggle that will burn for a long time, and so many heroic acts have been witnessed in the last week so that children might have bread to eat. Dr Martin Luther King once said, 'an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere': Now is the time to intensify the struggle to end Israeli aparthied.

There is something fitting that George Habash, veteran leftist, lived just long enough to see the birth of a new mass movement. Habash was to die - in exile, a penniless but defiant refugee - just at the moment the torch of liberty was passed to a new generation.

His life spanned the entire epic of Palestinian history: From the Arab Revolt of 1936 that required three-quarters of the British army to put it down, to the catastrophe of 1948 when Palestine disappeared from the map of the world, from the defeat of 1967, to the dark days of Black September and the expulsion of the PLO in ships from Beirut in the 80s. The organisation he was to found was to play a courageous role in the years of fire and ash that marked the first intifada, and he will always be remembered for his far-sighted rejection of the fraudulent Oslo peace process that promised “a kingdom of illusions with the Israelis firmly in charge”.

Adam Johannes, RESPECT member (Roath Branch)

O those who pass between fleeting words
Carry your names, and be gone
Rid our time of your hours, and be gone
Steal what you will from the blueness of the sea
And the sand of memory
Take what pictures you will, so that you understand
That which you never will:
How a stone from our land builds the ceiling of our sky.

O those who pass between fleeting words
From you the sword -- from us the blood
From you steel and fire -- from us our flesh
From you yet another tank -- from us stones
From you teargas -- from us rain
Above us, as above you, are sky and air
So take your share of our blood -- and be gone
Go to a dancing party -- and be gone
As for us, we have to water the martyrs' flowers
As for us, we have to live as we see fit.

O those who pass between fleeting words
As bitter dust, go where you wish, but
Do not pass between us like flying insects
For we have work to do in our land:
We have wheat to grow which we water with our bodies' dew
We have that which does not please you here: Stones or partridges
So take the past, if you wish, to the antiquities market
And return the skeleton to the hoopoe, if you wish,
On a clay platter
We have that which does not please you here: we have the future
And we have things to do in our land.

O those who pass between fleeting words
Pile your illusions in a deserted pit, and be gone
Return the hand of time to the law of the golden calf
Or to the time of the revolvers's music!
For we have that which does not please you here,
So be gone
And we have what you lack:
A bleeding homeland of a bleeding people
A homeland fit for oblivion or memory
O those who pass between fleeting words
It is time for you to be gone
Live wherever you like, but do not live among us
It is time for you to be gone
Die wherever you like, but do not live among us
It is time for you to be gone
Die wherever you like, but do not die among us
For we have work to do in our land
We have the past here
We have the first cry of life
We have the present, the present and the future
We have this world here, and the hereafter
So leave our country
Our land, our sea
Our wheat, our salt, our wounds
Everything, and leave
The memories of memory
O those who pass between fleeting words!

Mahmoud Darwish
translator unknown